2019: Donald Trump’s Corvette Summer of Racism
Donald Trump is a racist, and he managed to cram a lot of racism into one crazy summer this year. It was like a teen movie but the bigoted old guy who hates dancing is the lead. Trump kicked things off with a racist broadside against four Democratic congresswomen of color, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. They are collectively known as "the Squad" because America likes to brand everything. Trump declared on Twitter that these women should "go back" where they came from. This is such tired racist rhetoric, it was probably workshopped in Vaudeville.
It was pointed out that Omar is the only one not born in the United States, but that's a distinction without a difference because Trump claimed the Squad's native countries had "corrupt and inept" governments, which covers all four women's homelands. Trump considered himself a truth-teller because so many other people agreed with him about the Squad, but those people are racists. Tucker Carlson's gumball machine prize brain believed Omar was a "living fire alarm" about the dangers of (non-white) immigration. Omar wasn't "grateful" enough for all her adopted country had done for her. America let Omar crash on its couch and all she does is talk smack about her host. Carlson's racist rant aired July 9, and Trump was tweeting similar racist garbage a few days later. He takes all his cues from Fox, just like your grandfather, except you have the sense to keep the nuclear codes and the thermostat out of his reach.
Trump started to single out Omar for scorn, because the very small portion of his brain that can count realized that one is less than four. Trump is a bully and doesn't like fair fights. During one of his hate rallies in Greenville, North Carolina (I grew up in the better Greenville), the president's Frankenstein mob broke out into chants of "SEND HER BACK!" like the former Somalian refugee was a pair of ill-fitting shoes from Zappos.com. Trump later claimed he was shocked and disappointed with the crowd's repulsive xenophobia. That was a transparent, easily disproven lie. Advanced videotape technology showed Trump pausing to bask in the warm glow from his supporters' anti-Omar sentiment.
Just a little more than a week later, Trump attacked an American city because its congressional representative -- the sadly now late Elijah Cummings -- hurt his feelings. Cummings denounced the appalling conditions at the kiddie jail spas Trump's grotesque administration is running at the border. Trump retaliated with a TripAdvisor review of his own: "Baltimore Sucks! One Star."
In 2017, Trump said John Lewis's district was "horrible and falling apart" (it's not) because the congressman dared to criticize him. Trump seems to think Lewis and Cummings are ambassadors from foreign nations who he thinks need to "clean up" the mess in their own shitholes before they have the right to hold him accountable for anything (like running concentration camps or stealing elections). Trump believes non-white Americans are unwelcome guests in our own countries, and he keeps referring to places where minorities live with rhetoric and imagery he sampled from a Leni Riefenstahl movie. He's the president (unfortunately) of the entire United States, but he never acts like it.
So, that was a lot of racism packed into one month. It forced Americans to ask the difficult question, "Is our president a racist?" which is actually not a difficult question. The answer is a very simple "yes." It's hardly a riddle of the Sphinx. But it's tough for many Americans to wrap their minds around the fact that we (well, not me, personally) elected a racist as president. Pete Buttigieg can't even comprehend that the founders understood slavery was wrong -- even though slaves kept trying to escape, begged their "owners" not to separate their families, and wrote "Stop Slaving Us" memoirs. This is why we had to endure "think pieces" about what actually makes someone a "racist" or a "white supremacist." We thought it was just saying and doing racist things. We never knew you had to defend your racist dissertation before a KKK committee. The media also debated whether it had the right to identify anything as "racist." NPR VP for newsroom training and diversity Keith Woods suggested we just stick to the facts and say that Trump's "words mirror those of avowed racists and xenophobes that date back to the birth of this country." The racist sentiment goes even further than the events entertainingly dramatized in Hamilton. They aren't a "mirror image" of racism -- Trump doesn't wear an evil goatee when he's spouting racism. They are explicitly racist. Yes, Trump doesn't like it when people call him racist, because he understands on some level it's a character flaw. Trump's like a standup comic who's really full of himself and insists people call him a "performance artist." He doesn't just tell "jokes." He creates "experiences." Trump isn't a mere "racist." He's "racially charged," like a supervillain who fell into a vat of racist chemicals.
It was one wild, racist summer for Donald Trump. As we wrap up 2019, let's also leave behind pointless euphemisms: The (currently impeached) president is a disgusting racist.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).